The Vietnamese culture has always placed a strong emphasis on the arts and crafts, including several crafts based on paper. One of the streets of old Hanoi was actually called the "paper street" in honour of these crafts. The practice of traditional arts in Vietnam waned in the 20th century due to decades of war and disruption. However, traditional crafts have been making a comeback in recent years.
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Vietnamese Paper Lanterns
The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, or Tet Trung Thu, is held near the autumnal equinox in September. Family reunions are held at this festival, and children parade carrying paper lanterns. Some paper lanterns represent fish or stars, while others are shaped like butterflies. One type of paper lantern is designed to be spun around in the air with a lit candle inside. This is intended to stand for the Earth revolving around the sun.
The Tet Festival
Vietnamese paper crafts are displayed not only at the Moon Festival but the New Year, or Tet, Festival as well. Long dragons covered in coloured paper parade through the streets, frightening away the evil spirits so that the new year will be a lucky one. Both houses and graveyards are decorated with red and gold pieces of paper in honour of Vietnamese ancestors.
The craft of paper folding -- commonly known as origami -- was invented in China in the sixth century. The art spread from there to Japan, where it developed into the form most people are familiar with today. It also spread to Vietnam, where paper-folding techniques are taught and practised in conjunction with other traditional arts, such as cutting shapes out of fruit and making flower arrangements. Some Vietnamese paper-folding designs can be very elaborate, such as a dragon made out of 2,000 pieces of paper.
Diep paper is a special type of craft paper used in Vietnamese folk paintings. Diep paper is made from the bark of do trees through a traditional process. Vietnamese craftsmen bake seashells down into a powder. The powder is then glued onto the paper from the do tree to create a sparkling effect. Diep paper is used to make paintings for the Vietnamese New Year celebration.
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